2014 Haragan Lecture
Graham Harman, Ph.D
Distinguished University Professor at the American University in Cairo, Egypt, Graham Harman was recently described as is “one of the most important philosophers to emerge in the last twenty years” by Timothy Morton, Rita Shea Guffey Chair of English at Rice University. The author of eleven books and co-editor of one volume, Harman is a leading figure in an important philosophical return to metaphysics known as Speculative Realism. For Harman, metaphysics generates positive information about objects of concern centering upon reality itself, that is, on the ways the world actually exists. In particular, speculative realism seeks to a tentative grasp on those aspects of reality that eludes commonsense conceptions. The first philosopher to be presented in the Haragan Lecture Series, Professor Harman is renowned for combining down-to-earth reflections upon basic philosophical questions with a deep historical understanding of the paths taken by his predecessors. Harman is a refreshingly original thinker who speaks clearly to a general audience and who invites all to engage questions we routinely take for granted.
Ecology Without Networks
Although the title of this lecture makes a playful reference to Timothy Morton’s important book Ecology Without Nature, its central topic is the ecological work of the acclaimed sociologist of science Bruno Latour. Latour’s We Have Never Been Modern was one of the most important theoretical reflections published in the 1990’s. By arguing that modernity could never make good on its attempts to separate nature from society, Latour argued for a world made of networks of hybrid actors in which natural and social elements are inevitably combined and assembled. But what level of reality do these hybrid networks inhabit? This issue became increasingly prominent over the past decade, as Latour developed his distinction between “matters of fact”–realities said to exist independently of their effects on other things–and “matters of concern,” which exist only through their interrelations with other things. Latour’s recent Gifford Lectures in Edinburgh on the topic of Gaia use “composition” as the latest term for “matters of concern.” For Latour, Gaia is a matter of concern: it names an approach to worldly processes that must be composed by carefully assembling both natural and social actors. It is not a matter of fact that exists independently of this composition.
Harman’s lecture will point to a number of valuable insights that arise from Latour’s conception of Gaia, while also discussing some aspects of nature thereby lost.About The Haragan Lecture Series
President Emeritus, Donald R. Haragan, began his long career at Texas Tech University in 1969 as an Assistant Professor of Geosciences. He advanced through the academic ranks to Professor and served as Chair of the Department of Geosciences, Associate Dean for Research and Development in the College of Arts and Sciences, Interim Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, and Vice President for Academic Affairs and Research. In 1988, Dr. Haragan became Executive Vice President and Provost. In September of 1996, he became the twelfth President of Texas Tech University after having served as Interim President. President Haragan returned to the teaching ranks in 2000, becoming President Emeritus and Professor in the Honors College. In 2002, he re-assumed the role of Interim President until September 2003 and served TTU as Interim Chancellor in 2006.A native of Houston, Haragan earned his bachelor’s of science degree from the University of Texas at Austin, his master’s degree in meteorology from Texas A&M University and a doctorate in civil engineering-atmospheric science from the University of Texas at Austin. He is married to Willie O’Berry Haragan. They are the parents of two adult daughters. “Our 42 years at Texas Tech have been a labor of love for my wife Willie and me,” said Haragan. “The credit for whatever we have accomplished during that time goes to the faculty, staff and students who took some raw ideas and made them happen.”
During his tenure as Executive Vice President and Provost, Dr. Haragan established the Office of International Affairs and the Office of Institutional Research. He was also responsible for reviving the University Honors Program and establishing the Center for Teaching, Learning and Technology and the University Writing Center. His many accomplishments as President included the elevation of the Honors Program to an Honors College and the establishment of the Texas Tech study abroad center in Seville, Spain. The impressive academic improvements made at Texas Tech under his leadership have us well on the way towards attaining our goal of being the undergraduate institution of choice in Texas.
As President, Dr. Haragan committed significant university funds to the university’s 1998 proposal to the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. This tangible sign of the university’s commitment was an important factor in Texas Tech receiving the second largest grant from the Institute in that competition. The TTU/HHMI Program’s total funding since 1992 to Texas Tech of $7.8 million, together with the university resources dedicated to the program by Dr. Haragan and subsequent TTU Presidents, have had a significant impact upon undergraduate education in the sciences and precollege science education in the local and regional schools. To further those efforts, in 2003 Haragan and the TTU/HHMI Program Director, Dr. Larry Blanton, were instrumental in creating the Center for the Integration of Science Education & Research (CISER) which is funded in part by the TTU/HHMI Program.
In the midst of mentioning Dr. Haragan’s contributions, it should be noted that everything he does is with enthusiastic good humor and unbounded and infectious optimism. He is a passionate believer in the value — he would say necessity — of thinking across boundaries, those of disciplines as well as those of countries. Therefore, upon his retirement as President, it seemed an appropriate recognition of his distinguished service to establish this lecture series in 2001, which features speakers whose work crosses disciplinary boundaries. As a first step in assuring the continuation of this series, Dr. Haragan himself established the President Donald R. Haragan Lecture Series Endowment, which partners with CISER each year to bring international scientific leaders to speak to the Texas Tech University system and surrounding communities.
Donors, please contact the Senior Development Officer for Arts & Sciences, at 806.742.3833